There were three airfields in the Pine Rivers area during World War 2.
Most people are aware of the “Spitfire Avenue” Airstrip, also known as the A2 Strip in Strathpine. It was paved, and used heavily.
But not many people are aware of the A1 grass Strip which was built in the vicinity of Lawnton Pocket and Bells Pocket Roads.
It wasn’t paved, and was built as an emergency strip at an angle of about 60 degrees to the A2 strip. When planes were unable to land on the A2 strip due to wind, they could use the A1 strip.
Nothing much of it remains today. You can’t see any sign of it, except for the memorial erected by the council in 1995.
But the land is pretty flat!
There’s also a third strip south of here in Brendale. The A3 strip. One of these days I’ll ride down there and photograph it too!
In the meantime, I won’t have to try too hard to imagine the drone of Spitfires flying over my house.
UPDATE: I’ve just discovered Peter Dunn’s excellent Australia @ War site. He records that in 1942 2nd Lieutenant Maxwell J Jones (0429769) was tragically killed when his P-400 aicraft struck a tree while landing at the A1 airfield. Peter writes that the airfield was dangerous due to the fact that it was surrounded by large trees, and pilots often had to fly in an “S” shaped path on approach to the airfield in order to keep it in view – something that was very dangerous at low speed and low altitude.
We rode from Lawnton to Redcliffe and back today. The round trip was about 50km and took us just over 90 minutes each way. Luckily the trip is mostly flat, so once you settle into a rhythm, it’s pretty effortless. (Honestly, it is!). I’m really impressed with the quality of bikeways along the way, and love the way that the old Hornibrook bridge is available for use by pedestrians and cyclists. It’s a beautiful old bridge, a little run down, but as you can see in this photo, it still has a bit of old charm.
Four of us rode: My mate Simon from next door, Isaac, Harrison and me. The good thing about cycling is that although it’s hard work at times, you get to have some good conversations with the people you’re riding with. Sometimes one or two people might go ahead for a while, but it was a team effort, so we all tried to stick together.
Lunch at the Woody Point pub was a highlight for me. Cold beer tastes magic when you’ve ridden 25km in the heat beforehand. I’d love to do this ride again! You can see where we went on the map below. Unfortunately the batteries on my phone ran out halfway on the way back, but we started and finished at the same point so it gives you an idea of the route.
A few decades ago there used to be a rail service that operated westwards from Caboolture out over the D’Aguilar range. It’s no longer operational, and some of the track has been ripped up and converted into a “Rail Trail“.
The trail meanders through state forest, and because it was originally built for rail there are no steep inclines (unless you venture off the main trail).
It’s open for hikers, horse riders, and Mountain Bikers.
Motorized vehicles like trailbikes are prohibited (although we did catch a few motor bikes “in the act”).
The Wamuran-D’Aguilar rail trail is beautiful. We’ll definitely be going back soon!
The Moreton Bay council organized a cycling morning at Lakeside Raceway this morning.
Between 6.30 and 8.30am cyclists were allowed around the track, and we got a free drink at the end of the morning too.
At first I got a bit frustrated that Lilly was going so slow till I realized she had a flat front tyre. (Silly Neil). So I pumped it up and she flew. When she took the "kids shortcut" that cut out one of the hills, I had trouble keeping up with her.
I think it’s great that the council is organizing things like this. And it was good to see at least one of our local councillors, David Dwyer, out on the track in his bright yellow spandex. Good on ya David!
The second best thing about the ride this morning was being on bitumen and not having to worry about cars.
The best thing was having some fun exercise with the kids.
If you’re looking for a fun way to get fit, buy a bike!
A couple of our boys went to school at Pine Rivers High School in Strathpine.
The high school and surrounding houses are built on what used to be an RAAF air field, used in World War 2. In fact many of the streets in that area are named after WW2 planes – Spitfire Avenue, Lancaster Street, Wirraway Street, etc. And Spitfire Avenue is built on the actual runway of the old airfield. Every time I drive down that street I imagine young pilots revving up the engines on their Spitfires, tearing down the runway, and up into the sky above where I live.
In 1944, a couple of Spitfires collided mid-air over what is now the North Pine Country Markets. These photos show a memorial to Bill Wright and Alan Chandler who died in the collision. I don’t know how old they were, but I’m guessing they weren’t much older than a couple of our own boys today.
I ride past the monument some mornings, and thought I’d pay my respects today.
Who knows, perhaps in some other universe, young Bill and Alan are still flying their Spitfires and enjoying the view?
Regardless, these young men deserve to be remembered.